My fondest memory of the connection between confidence and recognition came from one of Colin Powell’s books in which he said “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”
It’s something that I had discovered on my own, but hadn’t put into such elegant language. I also discovered that when I don’t seek recognition others are more willing to grant it than if I pursue it. So what does this have to do with confidence?
What I’ve observed over the years is that people who are confident don’t feel a need to impress others. They are comfortable knowing what they’ve achieved and have no need of others’ recognition to affirm their knowledge.
Conversely, people who lack confidence often seek recognition for their accomplishments precisely because they need others’ affirmations. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that it’s human nature not to give recognition to those who desire it.
It’s also human nature to give credit to those who don’t care whether they get it or not. In other words we willingly grant recognition to people who don’t desire it because their lack of desire is selfless, while we withhold recognition from those who desire it because we perceive their desire as self-serving. Which, of course, it is.
If you desire recognition, don’t seek it. Instead:
- Find joy in the accomplishment itself and in your knowledge of what you achieved.
- Credit others with their contribution to the success of the effort.
- Acknowledge others talents and experience, but do so honestly.
- Remind yourself that acknowledging others’ contributions is a statement of confidence.
For our kids
As you observe the kids in your life seeking recognition, share the lessons outlined above with them. Ask them to notice that people who credit others are often recognized as well…and even if they aren’t, they have the satisfaction of knowing their contribution to the effort’s success.
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